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A People's History of Heaven

by Mathangi Subramanian

eBooks of the Month Historical Fiction

LoveReading View on A People's History of Heaven

What a remarkable novel this is. The life-affirming story of five young women who live in a Bangalore slum called Heaven. Their city used to be “more green than grey”, “a place where things grew,” and now “towering glass buildings sprouted in the grass where sheep used to graze”, and Heaven is about to be bulldozed. But not if this largely female community has anything to do with it. Indeed, they rise up as one, supporting each other, refusing to bow to the city government. The novel pivots around the lives of five friends. Dance-loving Deepa, who’s blind but whose friends support her passion. Banu, a political artist who “can do things that the rest of us can’t”. Transgender Joy, who was born to a mother who wished she was “unlucky enough to have a daughter.” Padma, “who knows all the ways a woman can be broken,” and is the only member of her family to receive an education. And queer Rukshana who wants “to be myself first.”

Through poverty and injustice, the women remain strong and united, with each of their situations, hopes and desires painted with dynamic brushstrokes. Both their individual stories and their collective warrior spirit will move, inspire and enrich.

Joanne Owen

A People's History of Heaven Synopsis

A dazzling tribute to the resilience and determination of a remarkable community of women Nestled between the luxury high-rise blocks of Bangalore is an ironically named slum called Heaven. It's here that five girls - Muslim, Christian and Hindu; gay and straight - forge a binding friendship. But when Heaven is threatened by government bulldozers, the girls must come together to save the home they've built from nothing. Sparkling with passion and humour, A People's History of Heaven is the story of these unforgettable young women and their determination, not only to survive, but to triumph in a city that would prefer to forget them.

A People's History of Heaven Press Reviews

`The women are not there for our pity; they are there to be listened to. How refreshing.' - New York Times Book Review

`Subramanian writes with empathy and exuberance, offering a much-needed glimpse into a world that too many of us don't even know exists. This is a book to give your little sister, your mother, your best friend, yourself, so together you can celebrate the strength of women and girls, the tenacity it takes to survive in a world that would rather have you disappear.' - Nylon

`Subramanian's observations are sharp, witty, and incisive; her writing is consistently gorgeous. She is passionate about the plight of Indian girls subjected to a patriarchal system that ruthlessly oppresses and devalues them... In depicting the societal ills that oppress India's women, Subramanian refuses to acquiesce to the plot that fate seems to have written for these girls.' - Washington Independent Review of Books

`Subramanian's evocative novel weaves together a diverse, dynamic group of girls to create a vibrant tapestry of a community on the brink.' - Publishers Weekly

`Everything about A People's History of Heaven is wonderful: the lyrical, light touch of the narrator, the story, the humor, and most of all, the girls.' - Minal Hajratwala, award-winning author of Leaving India

`A girl power-fueled story that examines some dark social issues with a light . . . touch.' - Kirkus Reviews

`How can a novel about a group of daughters and mothers on the verge of losing their homes in a Bangalore slum be one of the most joyful and exuberant books I've read? Subramanian writes without a shred of didacticism or pity, skillfully upending expectations and fiercely illuminating her characters' strength, intelligence, and passionate empathy. A People's History of Heaven should be a case study in how to write political fiction. Each page delighted and amazed me.' - Heather Abel, author of The Optimistic Decade

`A colourful, dramatic coming of age story.' - Ms. Magazine

`A People's History of Heaven forefronts human dignity and the intelligence it takes to survive at the intersection of so much society uses to set people apart... Spending time with this fearsome five is...just plain fun.' - Foreword Reviews

`Wonderful... The stories of these young women...are full of emotion and drama, and also fierce power and hope. Their relationships and support for one another is inspiring, making this a beautiful testament to friendship and individuality. More LGBTQ+ novels about people of colour, please!' - BookRiot

`Poetic... Subramanian's rich imagery conjures up the bustle of a diverse city where children live in poverty mere blocks from three-story homes where their mothers work as maids... As colourful as a Rangoli design, this bittersweet coming-of-age story will linger in the reader's mind.' - Shelf Awareness

`Perfect for readers who want to learn more about Indian and South Asian culture, or for readers who love stories featuring strong female friendships.' - Reading Women podcast

`What a thrill to read a novel as daring and urgent as A People's History of Heaven. It's a story about defiance in the face of erasure, about the survival tactics of an unforgettable group of girls. I can't remember the last time I encountered a voice of such moral ferocity and compassion.' - Tania James, author of The Tusk That Did the Damage

`The power of these fierce young women shines in spite of their circumstances, and they prove just how beautiful and influential a strong, unconditionally accepting community is. Subramanian is a remarkable writer whose vibrant words carry a lot of heart. This inspiring novel is sure to draw in readers with its lyrical prose and endearing characters.' - Booklist

`A vibrant novel...a beautiful story of love, loyalty, and female friendship.' - Hello Giggles

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781786076762
Publication date: 05/09/2019
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781786076762
Publication date: 5th September 2019
Author: Mathangi Subramanian
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 304 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Women's health, Personal & social issues: sexuality & relationships (Children's / Teenage), Poverty & unemployment,

About Mathangi Subramanian

Mathangi Subramanian is an award winning writer, author, and educator. A former public school teacher, senior policy analyst for the New York City Council, and assistant vice president at Sesame Workshop, Mathangi Subramanian's work has appeared in The Washington Post.com, Al Jazeera America, Quartz, The Hindu, The Wire, The Indian Express, Skipping Stones, Thinkling, and the Seal Press anthology Click! When We Knew We Were Feminists, among others.  She has received various fellowships, including a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholarship, a Jacob Javits Fellowship, and an Office of Policy and Research Fellowship from Columbia Teachers College, where she completed her ...

More About Mathangi Subramanian

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